German filmmaker and novelist Alexander Kluge had cinema figured out with his first feature-length film, Yesterday Girl, back in 1966. And guess what? He did us all the favor and decided to put his experience into words (beautiful ones, at that). Prepare yourself, and then go find a copy of Cinema Stories, stat.
In this glorious text Kluge doesn’t take on the topic of filmmaking in a technical manner—oh no, of course not—he instead uses the form of the short story to embody that magical thing we call cinema. Blurring the lines between fact and fiction, Kluge’s chapters range from discussions with a “blind director” (bonus points if you know who Fritz Lang is) to a mysterious death of a silent screen siren, Olive Thomas. His stories will stick with you for life, haunting in their telling but also so full of knowledge. I guess what I’m trying to say, in the most layman of terms, is that this man knows how to write.
|Recommended by Chelsey Grasso||Wednesday, July 8th, 2015||No Comments »|
“If you go to Antigua as a tourist, this is what you will see. If you come by aeroplane, you will land at the V.C. Bird International Airport. Very Cornwall (V.C.) Bird is the Prime Minister of Antigua. You may be the sort of tourist who would wonder why a Prime Minister would want an airport named after him — why not a school, why not a hospital, why not some great public monument? You are a tourist and you have not yet seen a school in Antigua, you have not yet seen the hospital in Antigua, you have not yet seen a public monument in Antigua.”
And so begins A Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid’s beloved and abruptly blunt essay on Antigua. Kincaid isn’t afraid to “go there” as the text continues, explaining the terror and repercussions of her homeland being “conquered” by the British. She points out injustice in a way that’s insightful and stomach-turning all at once. While the subject matter is difficult, Kincaid’s voice manages to be anything but—making for an enthusiastic and energetic read that is filled with passion, history, and many, many lessons.
|Recommended by Chelsey Grasso||Thursday, June 25th, 2015||No Comments »|
The Crumpled Press (such an appropriate name) released Codex in Crisis back in 2008, a long-form essay by Anthony Grafton that delves into the history of printed books, the current state of their affairs, and most significantly, what hope remains for them in their long-distance future. Divided into chapters, this hand-bound (hand-sewn, to be more accurate) book will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about books.
Grafton is clearly pro-printed books, though it’s refreshing to read that he also knows the benefits of ebooks and where praise is due in the digital world. Not arguing against ebooks, per say, but arguing against the demise of printed books, Codex in Crisis brings up a lot of vital points when it comes to the debate of whether or not to turn our literary archives digital. No matter which side of the fence you find yourself sitting on, this book is bound to teach you a lot about both ends of the ever-pending digital versus paper battle. So read up, and enjoy the physical beauty of this hand-crafted rarity as you do it.
|Recommended by Chelsey Grasso||Thursday, May 28th, 2015||No Comments »|
People have a tendency to either love or hate New York City… narrow that group of people down to writers and the emotions behind those opinions expand in tenfold. Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York is a collection of short stories that focus on exactly what the book’s title implies, while Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakeable Love for New York curates just the opposite types of stories. Sari Botton, who edits both books, collects a wide range of vignettes and does well in pairing them together. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, you turn the page and realize you have so much more to hear.
Whether you’re a writer, a New Yorker, or someone looking for a good collection of short stories, these two books are worth the read—and with contributors like Emma Straub, Ann Hood, Whoopi Goldberg, and Amy Sohn, you’re bound to find a story or two that sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading.
|Recommended by Chelsey Grasso||Thursday, May 14th, 2015||No Comments »|